On Politics On PoliticsOn Politics
Analysis and perspective about what's happening in the political realm.

Chris Christie Reality Check

L.E.MORMILE / Shutterstock.com file photo

Last week, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie very publicly scolded House Speaker John Boehner for not bringing superstorm Sandy relief legislation to the floor for a vote. Christie, who aggressively pushed for spending cuts and pension reforms during his first year in office, unambiguously criticized his GOP colleagues for not advancing the nearly $60 billion bill, signaling a possible rift between the outspoken governor and House Republican leadership.

But Christie's criticism also reflects a straightforward political calculation. He's up for reelection in a solidly Democratic state this November, and it's in his best political interests to move away from conservative orthodoxy in favor of embracing relief funding that's popular in the Garden State. At this point, it doesn't matter whether there's any wasteful spending in the appropriation. Christie's biggest concern is whether the storm-stricken coastline will be rebuilt. His political prospects are closely tied to his recovery efforts back home -- and the more money, the better.

Indeed, his approval rating skyrocketed to 77 percent in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, according to a November 2012 Fairleigh Dickinson poll, up 21 percentage points from before the storm hit.

“Whatever it was going to be, it’s now all going to be about the storm -- the aftermath of that and the rebuilding and recovery from that,” he said in an interview with Bloomberg ahead of the State of the State address this week. 

That's astronomical compared to Congress's overall approval rating, and congressional Republicans in particular, which is lodged in the teens. So there's not much risk politically for Christie to swipe at recalcitrant conservative lawmakers. 

"One of the things that commended him to Republicans was his outspokenness. People are willing to accept someone who seems to be genuine. There are people in the state who are the farthest thing from Chris Christie as you can imagine, but like him," said Ross Baker, professor of political science at Rutgers University.

Christie's newly minted bipartisan bona fides is fueling buzz that he's seriously eyeing a bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016 -- something he's not exactly shooting down. In an interview with The Star-Ledger of Newark, he publicly proclaimed that "damn right, [he'd] be more ready" to run for president than in 2012, when he was rooted on by his GOP fans.

Still, Christie's pathway to the GOP nomination is far from roadblock-free. He's a Republican governor from a solidly Democratic state -- New Jersey has voted for the Democrat in presidential elections in every contest since 1988 -- which could spell trouble in a primary in the Republican Party, which is increasingly Southern and ideologically conservative. Plus, the party could be inclined to think twice about picking another blue-state governor after Mitt Romney fell short in 2012. 

Michael Catalini

Michael Catalini is a staff correspondent covering the U.S. Senate at National Journal Daily. Previously at National Journal, he reported on national politics and was deputy editor of Influence Alley, covering Congress and K Street. Before joining National Journal he oversaw coverage of the Baltimore Ravens at The Baltimore Sun. While at The Sun, he also pioneered the use of live-streaming video, organized and edited online content and wrote breaking and feature news. He graduated from Penn State with a bachelor's degree in journalism and has a master's degree in government from Johns Hopkins.

Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.